Markham Arena - GTA Centre Vote

Markham Arena, also known as GTA Centre, was being put forth with public funding. As part of deputations in front of Markham City Council, I also delivered the following speech. After 3 days of meetings, the council finally voted 11 to 2 against public funding for the GTA Centre Arena in Markham. 

Good evening, my fellow citizens, Councillors and Mr. Mayor:

My name is Jagdeep Singh. I have a degree in Architecture and I am a Real Estate Broker, working in the real estate industry for the last 13 years. I have been living in Ward 7, Logan Kanapathi’s ward, for the last 16 years and my office is in Thornhill.

As is evident from my profession, I am all for development and increase in property values.

I found out about this meeting 4 days ago when I received this marketing piece for the Arena. I had the opportunity to attend the meeting yesterday, from start to finish, and witnessed the buttons, the posters, the photo ops, lights, camera and the action.

Irrespective of whoever bankrolled this media propaganda, Mr. Mayor, your message at the back of this shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, that you support this initiative....specifically with statements such as, and I quote:

“The GTA Centre is an exciting opportunity for Markham…”
“The GTA Centre will be a Centre of Excellence….”
“The GTA Centre will create hundreds of new jobs…”
“We are not contributing property tax dollars toward the construction…” End Quote

It is my opinion that if anyone, even with borderline ethics and integrity, gets onboard with any initiative, then he or she should stand behind their choice and take the fall for it…. if it comes to that. With this marketing piece and your name behind it, it has come to a point that you should take the fall for it.

Misleading and subjective statements such as “Top” Touring Bands, “Major” Sports Events, “Increased” Property Values are deceiving to say the least. Those of you, who support this GTA Centre, are you the people who deceive? This marketing piece seems like deception to me and at best, a jumble of distorted and incomplete statements.

There is no guarantee that the property values will go up near this centre. In fact, sample data from areas around the ACC and Rogers Centre shows, that if anything, residential property values go down near major centres such as the one being proposed, and commercial rents go up, making it unsustainable for small business owners and mom and pop shops to stay in the area.

What disgusts me the most about this propoganda piece is that it attempts to shoot down a survey initiative organized by and conducted for the people of Markham.

Last night, I heard statements in support of the GTA Centre as well. Statements such as

“think of the young people”  - Yes, please think of the young people and don’t take on a $162 million debt and $90 million interest obligation, a total of $252 million dollar sword that will hang on our heads for years to come.

I heard statements such as “this Centre will make Markham diverse” – last I  checked, we already are a diverse community.

Among others, people who don’t live in our city, people who are part of construction unions from outside of Markham, people who admitted to receiving money from the developer for their organizations, spoke in support of this arena. 

If this project is so good, then why don’t the business people involved in it do it on their own, without using the public money? To my fellow Markham residents who support this project, and to the councillor members who support this project, I say this: please take out your cheque books, write a cheque from your personal bank accounts, become a shareholder in the GTA centre and share the profits.  All the power to you. Just don’t put a loan on my head and the heads of 97% of those who say no to this project.

There are some pretty interesting statements in this propaganda, right here. Specifically in the section titled, "A Message from the Mayor", I will read some lines, as I understood them….

Risk more than … safe                     Dream more than …. Practical         Expect more than …. possible.


Council members:

By supporting this Centre,   Are we being fiscally responsible?
Are we ensuring Markham’s prosperity?
Are we being smart business people?

I think not.

Dear Council members:
Please support Deputy Mayor Mr. Jack Heath’s motion, and if our Mayor gets in the way, then perhaps you can learn some things from the City of Toronto council on how to take care of that. 

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